Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM
Hot & Not Report - Week 3
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After last week's piece shifted the focus to the collegiate game, it's back to discussing NFL action this week now that we've got essentially two full weeks under our belt. The Browns and Jets still have to do battle tonight, and some could say that Jets QB Sam Darnold and his mono diagnosis kicked off a brutal week for QB injuries. ON Sunday we saw Saints QB Drew Brees get knocked out of the game with a thumb injury that will have him on the shelf for multiple weeks, and Pittsburgh's QB Ben Roethlisberger is now lost for the year with elbow concerns.
With Andrew Luck's abrupt retirement at the end of August, it's been an ever-changing landscape at the QB position so far in the NFL, and chances are it won't end there. The Giants and Dolphins have legitimate questions to ask themselves about who will be their starter for the bulk of the season, and a team like Washington is starting to inch closer to that boat as well.
QB issues aside, Week 3 is always an interesting one as we've now come and gone through Opening Week and Overreaction Week in the betting market, and more data points are out there to use as support. Team identities are starting to get firmer – if their QB has stayed healthy – and for some, it's about potentially preventing their season from going off the rails after a rough start.
It's that notion that I've isolated for this week, as Week 3 brings some of their own interesting betting opportunities for NFL teams that have been money burners (0-2 ATS) or money earners (2-0 ATS) so far. The market has seen (or been burnt) by these teams inability to cash betting tickets, and that in itself can create market disparities in terms of the perception and reality of how good a certain team may actually be.
So it's “perfect” ATS teams in the NFL that are travelling in Week 3 that have become the focus this week. While two of the winless squads – New Orleans and Pittsburgh – have new QB's starting in Week 3 and may be taken much more lightly or even omitted from this following group, the changes at QB are likely to create an even bigger gap in terms of the perception of those squads.
But here are the situations to keep in mind as you go through the week breaking down the board:
Back the Money Burners on the road
NFL teams that are 0-2 ATS and are playing on the road in Week 3 are 9-3 ATS the past three seasons
This trend seems to be a strong one over the past three years and it's done well in each individual year as well, as the record sits at 7-2 ATS the past two years, and it was 4-1 ATS in 2018. On the surface, a trend like this does make some sense in the idea that 0-2 ATS squads can be a little undervalued after being money burners (for a variety of reasons) through two weeks. Bettors maybe haven't like what they've seen from these squads, have been burned by them for a big wager, last leg of a parlay etc, and or just don't believe they are a capable or competitive team that season. This year we've got six (potentially seven) different teams fitting this role too.
The list of teams that are 0-2 ATS and on the road in Week 3 are Carolina, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Miami, the New York Giants and possibly the New York Jets should they fail against the number on MNF. All of those squads do fit different aspects of the reasons behind having yet to cover a spread, and having already discussed the situations that face New Orleans and Pittsburgh this week, I won't go more in-depth on them. But chances are both will be a little undervalued – especially compared to what they could have been with Brees and Roethlisberger under center – and may be worth a look once point spreads are established.
Miami and the Giants definitely fit the bill of being teams that aren't likely to be all that competitive this year, as they've shown nothing to have bettors believe putting their hard earned money down on them is worth the risk. The Giants are currently catching +6.5 points nearly everywhere as they head down to Tampa Bay to face a well-rested Bucs team, while Miami's going to Dallas and currently catching three TD's. I can't imagine either of those sides being all that popular as the week goes on, but points are points and they might actually be catching a few more then they should be given the overall perception of the organizations. Week 3 has proven in the past that some level of professional pride tends to kick in for these slumping squads, and I would venture a guess that at least one of the Giants or Miami ends up cashing an ATS ticket this week.
The remaining two teams that are for sure on this list are Chicago and Carolina, and each are road chalk in Washington and Arizona respectively. Laying points with these “money burners” may look tough to do for some, but it again speaks to the idea that they may actually be a little undervalued right now because of that 0-2 ATS start. The Bears and Panthers are both hovering around laying a FG against their respective opponents, and you can't help but wonder if they were 1-1 ATS already, would these spreads be a point or two higher. That's a question you should keep in mind throughout the week, as if Arizona and Washington find themselves turning into 'public home dogs', it might be best to expect the Panthers and Bears to get into that ATS winner's circle.
Fade the Money Earners
2-0 ATS teams that are on the road in Week 3 are 3-9 ATS the past three seasons
This run is quite the opposite idea of things when you sit down and think about it, as these perfect ATS teams that go out on the road – sometimes for the first time that year – tend to be thought too highly of in terms of either the number that exists out there and/or the perception in terms of generating a strong majority of support from the market. It's been a great two opening weeks for these teams and bettors – the majority of whom love to ride streaks – have no problem backing the hot hand because that's what's worked so far.
So whether or not these lines are actually inflated or not to the side of these perfect ATS road teams can be debated, but just because something has worked twice so far, doesn't mean it will continue to work going forward. That's such a reactive way to handicap in my opinion and being proactive - whether it's getting action down early in the week, finding more predictive numbers/stats to base opinions on etc – will tend to bring you more success.
This year, we've only got one team that fits that role, and it's the LA Rams on SNF as they travel to Cleveland to face the Browns. Depending on how Cleveland performs tonight will have plenty to do with the number that comes out – especially if Cleveland stinks up the joint again and/or loses to a Jets team without their starting QB.
But for a market who was all about backing the Saints this past week with their revenge narrative against the Rams, LA's performance in that game – even with Brees getting hurt – had to increase their stock in the eyes of many, especially those who had the Saints this weekend, and should the Browns lose tonight on MNF, without question an early flurry of Rams money is likely to flood in. That scenario would set up a situation where we'd have a 2-0 ATS Rams team visiting an 0-2 ATS Browns team, and 0-2 ATS teams at home in Week 3 are 5-3 ATS the past two seasons.
It may be then that we see all this Browns love we've seen and heard about in the market for months finally come to fruition, but regardless of what happens on MNF tonight, I'd be hesitant to pull the trigger on the defending NFC Champions next week.